Monday, October 17, 2005

Patience. Again. And waiting....

So Mother is now on IV antibiotics and pretty much confined to bed, and has pnemonia, feet and hands are swelling, on oxygen. It is very hard to be so far away, and to be so tied to the phone, waiting any change. It is always uppermost in my thoughts, invading sleep, errands, work. Today I just feel numb...waiting, waiting, waiting.

I make to-do lists in my head about the stuff I need for her, and then I shut off my thoughts because she's not dead yet and I don't want to go there until I have to go there, yet I SHOULD go some, in order to expedite and make notifications easier, yet I don't WANT to go there. It's a catch-22.

I feel like all these thoughts are swimming, like fish in a bowl, and each one is a separate task. I'm dithering about where to start, so I haven't. Yuk. Waiting. Patience. Again.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Stress and snark

The past couple of months have been filled with busy-ness and business, although I can't really recall just what occupied so much time. The past week has been filled with stress and sadness, and yet much gratitude too. Today I had absolutely zero tolerance for games-playing and irritating people, and got a little snarky. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

My brother and I visited our mother last week, celebrated his 55th birthday, and watched her slip further down the shining, shining path, surreptitiously wiping dampness from our eyes, feeling lumps of unshed tears grow large in our throats and chests. We expect to be back there soon for that final goodbye, but she's kept death at arm's length numerous times in the past five years and well may again. I don't think so, though. This time she has pneumonia, diagnosed just before we left, and while she's trying to stay active, upright, and is being given antibiotics, she is so fragile that she can't support her own weight and can't even sit on the toilet anymore. After a terrible Sunday, where she stayed in bed, shook so that she couldn't quite manage the call button, and nearly choked on her own saliva, she cheerfully went to her hair appointment Monday morning, bless her heart. She's going to the dining room for meals and trying to feel better. Her attitude is simply remarkable.

My prayer for a long time has been that she not suffer, and it still is my hourly litany. I can see how things could rapidly become much, much worse, hard as that is to imagine. Her evening caretakers are watchful, insistently seeking care from aides who have so many others to attend to, and we're trying to strike a balance between being outraged with the staff when her needs are not immediately met and understanding that it is impossible to do so. As my brother says, "she is my MOTHER. There is no greater priority right now."

And yet life goes on. Offers are accepted, escrows opened, volunteer tasks and deadlines loom, and I am here, not there. There is not a moment that she is not part of me right now, though, as we sit at a distance in this vigil, my brother and I.

It's like waiting for the other shoe to drop. I don't want it to fall, yet fall it will, and I've been mentally gearing up for some time. The waiting is desperately hard, but that is our job right now, I guess, as clinging to life is hers, despite the loss of so much dignity, so much independence, so much privacy. All that's left to her to choose to share are her thoughts, and the illness and the drugs must dull even those sometimes.

So today I've been a little more direct than usual, a little less tolerant of inconsiderate behavior than usual (although I'm not very forgiving of that on any day--my bad). I've politely told a colleague that she screwed up, I've told a trio of fledgling business owners that they've shot themselves in the foot, and tried some saccharine sweetness on a snarky nurse. I think I'm burning up my frustration at being so helpless where Mom is concerned!

In the midst of all this, I have a solid core of gratitude for my life, for my mother and the gifts she's given me over the years -- not the least of which is exactly that outspokenness. She was a great letter-writer when customer service, cleanliness, or ethical behaviors were questionable, and she got results. She was not unkind, not ugly, but clear and direct about her expectations. Perhaps I'm channeling that these days! Not a bad legacy at all.

I am blessed to have the relationships that I do with my family -- spouse, children, parents, sibling. I treasure that bond above all else in my life -- always have. Always will. Thanks to the universe for those lives and those lessons.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

If you can't stand the heat...don't move here

Yeah, so it's been in the 100s for days, including one fine reading of 113.9 degrees on our front porch. Fortunately the humidity is around 10 percent or less, or we'd be boiling in our own sweat. That's the difference between heat here and in the Midwest and South. I prefer here, although my favorite temperatures are still the 60s-80s, even year round as we had them in the Bay area.

And we turn the wheel each day to create business, to move things ahead a little so that eventually money will come out.

The garden grows green and lush amid the unirrigated parched and crispy beige of the landscape, and we're reaping green beans, chard, and cucumbers, with tomatoes reddening and nearly ready to pluck from heavy vines. I do like gardening, seeing what I've planted come to fruit, and I like fixing meals with veggies I've grown (although what I'm going to do with all these cukes is beyond me!), flavored with herbs cut fresh from that end of the garden. It's organic, too -- marigolds and the cats mostly keep the bugs and critters down, and the fence is not inviting to the deer and rabbits that we see daily.

The deer get their share, though -- the huge cukes hidden under the leaves get cut up and tossed; the bolted lettuce and spinach and spent pea vines were theirs too. This year's zucchini crop will be small: some of last year's is still in the freezer or dried, and Tony is just *not* into more of it this year! In another month I'll plant lettuce and spinach for a fall crop, and think about broccoli, a crop I've not yet tried.

Watching the crops grow and ripen really marks the passage of time for me, much as preparing for each new school year did when my daughter was little. Another cycle passed; another harvest ready; I know winter will come and the heat will instead be focused around our wood stove and the cool will be outside (and free!) instead of inside and expensive.

Gratitude for heat and cooling and these cycles of living are part of my daily mantras, as much as brushing my teeth and showering are. I've found I CAN stand the heat, whatever it brings, because it will eventually change.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Parenting, adult-style

Like so many of our generation, we've got an adult child living with us for a while until she gets her finances and self together. Our youngest princess, she is the only one who was with both of us as a teenager.

So we're all trying to find a balance to everyday life -- she, on her own pretty much for the last five years, is trying to figure out parents who have changed nearly every aspect of our lives since she last lived with us, and with tremendous geographic and emotional changes. We are trying to share the slower-paced country life we have now, realizing that she's always been a city kid, and adjusting to the less private lifestyle (no more skinnydipping in the hot tub). It's a challenge on some days for each of us.

Partly it's finding out how to react to each other: we are not the same people she left in oh so many ways, and she is no longer 16 or 17. We do not always like her choices, but when it is not a matter of personal safety or infringement on our basic boundaries, it's time to shut up, and for opinionated people, that's a tall order! Some previous hot buttons are, we're finding, still hot on both sides.

Still, we believe this is a good move for her, and she agrees or she'd not be here. We'll figure out how to deal with the I-don't-want-to-talk-about-it stresses, and the I'm-not-used-to-being-talked-back-to ones. We ARE all adults, in various stages of maturity, and maybe we'll all just hone that a little more.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The state of loving

Friday marks five years of our wedded life together, and it seems like so much longer! We've been together for going on eight. While I can remember life without Tony, married life at that, this is so different, so intertwined, and so loving. This is what poets write about, what romance novels promise, what few people, I believe, ever really experience. We are blessed, and we know it. Thanks to the universe.

This has been a month of ups and downs, travels, travails, closings, and beginnings.

My dear little mother is failing, although she works so hard at living. It was a joy to be with her for her birthday, and to talk with her brother Tom who also was there. Hard to watch her struggle to eat, to brush her teeth, to do much of anything. My brother Jimmy was there two weeks after I was. Both of us did what we could with doctors, nurses, meds, but the bottom line is that it likely won't be too much longer before she joins Daddy. I held it together, with just a few leaky moments, until she told me, after I was back home, that they'd put her on the 'feeder's side,' which she had dreaded. It means such loss of independence, of dignity! That did me in, and I sobbed -- as soon as I was off the phone with her. Nonetheless, she's trying to make the best of it, and they've moved a couple of women who are reasonably cognizant to her table. Bless her. And again, thanks to the universe for her, and her love for us.

I recently received a thank you from a client that just MADE my whole career as an agent feel worthwhile. She was so happy with my work, with her land, and how she was treated. I'll treasure that one, and remember it when transactions aren't as pleasant.

And just in the last few days we've gotten a new listing and written an offer -- so the wheel turns a little more.

We're celebrating our fifth on the waters of SF Bay, just as we celebrated our wedding day. It's only a little bit of time away, but it'll be good for us.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

More about breathing

Actually, breathing through each day isn't such a bad way to operate, I guess.

After all, in all that meditation I studied a few years ago, it's all about breath: noting the breath in, noting the breath out. Focusing on the here and now. I use it often still, to calm myself, to focus, to pay attention to where I am, to get in touch with my body.

Paying attention to what is here is hard, y'know? The mind wants to go off into stuff you gotta do, where you need to be, what you gotta do, instead of just being where you are and experiencing that.

I was at the cowboy poetry readings tonight, watching the cowboys read and recite their various stories, watching the crowd react to the familiar ranch words. I'm an urban cowgirl, I guess, and I've never roped a calf nor expect to, but I've wrangled more than a few stubborn folks and animals in my time, and I think that's my story in the making....

There was a man sitting in front of me, older, with white silky hair, much like my dad's. If I squinted a little, I could see Daddy sitting there, soaking up the stories-- he loved to listen, but he also loved to perform and tell. I miss him.

So my mind wandered a bit to stories Daddy used to tell, and how much he enjoyed an audience. One of the poets read The Cremation of Sam McGee, a poem I've enjoyed for years, and one which I think Daddy read to me many years ago. So for a little while tonight, I held my father's hand while he told me stories again. Okay, I had to squint to see him. But he was there.

I think storytelling may be a way I can direct some of my passions and meet some creative needs. And we'll explore that in coming months, seeking some opportunities.

Meanwhile, I'll breathe through the day. Through the moments, one at a time, and be where I am.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Living our lives

According to the AP, Terri Schiavo "... showed us how to live. She showed us the gift of life and how we should share it." Her sister has said she "... "shown the world what perseverance and determination are all about."

Oh please.

This woman's primary achievement was to be in a persistant vegetative state since she was 26 years old. SHE hasn't shown us much of anything. She hadn't had TIME to live very much! Her family, on the other hand, has shown us why it is so important to leave a living will and advance directives.

If Terri is a role model for how to live life, then lemme outta here now.

I don't think most people even begin to understand how to live their lives fully until they've got considerably more age than 26 years. The 20s are about *ME* (just like the teens and childhood), at least as far as I can remember, and from what I see today. If you're lucky enough to have kids, there are about 18 years (per kid) where most of your energies go to THEM (that is if you're really raising them right -- it just takes so much time and energy and work!) That takes most of us into the 40s, although I have a couple of friends who are in their 40s with small children, bless them.

And then there are the 50s. By this time, with the mistakes and the bruises and the ups and downs you've come through already, you may be able to determine just who you really are and what you really want and how you really need to be living. I don't know what the 60s, 70s, 80s, and onward may bring, but I'm hoping for more insight. Not that I think I've done too badly.

I just have a problem according dead people the 'wonderful person' status. Not everyone who dies is a wonderful person who shows 'us how to live.' Not everyone who is alive is really alive, either (some of them are just breathing through the days, living the same day year after year).

I'm sorry Terri didn't get to live more of her life. I'm sorry her parents devoted the last 15 years to trying to bring her back to real life, and not to living it themselves. Who knows if they'll be able to find it again?

I want to make the most of each day, not just breathe through it.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Traveling mercies

Terri is free, though the turmoil lives on. The short life of this poor girl, which was ended by complications of bulemia 15 years ago, was so ordinary, and yet her dying and death have garnered attention that even Hollywood stars don't get. Somehow I don't think that's what she envisioned to grow up to be when she was little -- a woman in a vegetative state who would be the subject of numerous law suits and an infamous act of Congress.

And Pope John Paul is near death, too, according to reports, after serving his church so faithfully for so long. I remember when he was elected, and what a surprise that was to many. I wish for him more peace than was accorded Terri.

And to both, I wish traveling mercies.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Life lines

A few words about life
The news has been full of 'life' these past few weeks, especially as regards Terri Schiavo's plight, the desperate pleas of her parents to keep her alive, and the various Congressional personalities pontificating about the situation.

Makes my blood boil.

It also irks me that those who would keep her in that vegetative state are largely labeled as 'pro life,' implying that those who support the right to die with dignity and the right to a safe and legal abortion are death?

A couple of things bother me even more: the disabled protestors who imply that because of their very disability, they too might be subject to measures which would end their lives without their consent, for instance. I know there are terrible diseases which limit communication and mobility, but I do not believe that a feeding tube on someone who is still able to communicate and clearly has brain activity is going to be arbitrarily yanked. It's the same sort of analogy that the antiabortion folks use when they compare abortion with the Holocaust.

The interference of the Congress in what is so clearly not any of their business morally or legally is simply unacceptable, and I've written my representative to tell him so.

I pray for Terri every day, that she might finally be able to leave her clay feet and soar. I pray for her parents, that they may let her go in peace, and I pray for Michael, and the agonizing decisions he's faced over these 15 years.

And I selfishly pray that I don't ever have to make such a choice. But I know what it will be, if the situation is the same.

Contemplating life
I'm about to finish 'Traveling Mercies' by Anne Lamott. I love her story, I relate to some of it all too well, and her phraseology is memorable. For instance: Forgiveness, she says, is giving up all hope of ever having a better past. She talks to God the way I do, and I like that there's someone else who does that.

I need more spirituality in my life, and I'm not sure quite where to find it. Organized religion -- a church -- may not be the best way right now, with the way we work and live, and yet I'm a little at a loss to figure out where to seek it.

I've put energies and passion into a variety of things over the years, many of them through church. I'm trying to watch and listen for the next right thing.

I try to live my gratitude every day: how thankful I am to be here, to be with my husband, to have the children I do, the freedom in this job to work how I'm most comfortable and productive. I'm grateful for my little fragile mother whose birthday I'll celebrate with her soon, and for those who love and encourage me. I am aware of the responsibilities I have with regards to life, and I'm working on making me more healthy in all the important ways. I've done a good job with that over these past several years, but it is always a challenge!

Peace to Terri tonight, and peace to us all.

Friday, March 04, 2005

That time thing, again

Geeze. March, it is, and it happened while I wasn't looking. Or maybe I was.

It's been a full four...FOUR...months, full of family visits and talking, full of day-to-day work, full of new relationships and inner musings. Yet there are things every day that remain on my to-do list, like exercise, like putting away the Christmas boxes that still reside in the spare bedroom, like getting the whole house clean all at the same time.

And some things don't change much, either, like marveling how quickly the days fly.

Paying attention to things that matter. Mostly I do that. I guess the rest is just the fluff.